Pu Zhiqiang: China rights lawyer has licence revoked

Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang talks to media in Beijing in this July 20, 2012 picture. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pu Zhiqiang said being disbarred from practising law had come as no surprise

One of China's best known human rights lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang, has had his licence to practice law revoked.

The move follows the three-year suspended prison term he was given in December for online comments critical of Communist Party rule.

Mr Pu was involved in high-profile freedom of speech cases and defended dissident writers and activists, including the artist, Ai Weiwei.

Some 200 lawyers and activists have been held or questioned in a crackdown.

As a result of his conviction, Pu Zhiqiang said he expected to lose his lawyer's licence. He posted the official notice informing him of that fact online.

"I want my friends in the legal community to know I am no longer a lawyer.

"It's inevitable the justice bureau was going to act," he told BBC Chinese.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing says Mr Pu has long been a thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities and carried on a prolific, often humorous, social media critique of Communist Party rule.

His trial over just seven of those comments could have resulted in up to eight years in jail.

To the surprise and relief of his many supporters, the sentence was suspended - but the conviction and consequent loss of his legal licence will still serve as a stern warning to other vocal critics of the government, our correspondent says.

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